72.4 F

Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Column: Fuck my life

I said this to myself last Wednesday morning upon waking up and seeing the overcast weather. I said it again when, during the process of choosing my outfit for said weather, I realized I had forgotten to pack my warmest overcoat, leaving me with only an assortment of relatively thin cardigans.

The phrase made another appearance when I discovered that my only options for breakfast were foods that would take too long to prepare in the given amount of time, and yet again when I remembered halfway down the staircase that my bike keys were still in my desk drawer. I went back inside, retrieved the keys, locked the front door again, and with a quick glance at my watch and another “fuck my life” I was off.

By the time I reached campus, I had developed a sort of palate for the saying, and began cursing my very existence for a variety of reason – I was seeing the world through FML goggles. My classes were covering what felt like the dullest material yet; my CoHo burrito was so large it bordered on unwieldy; my Cargo Coffee Latte was slightly too dry for my liking.

“Fuck my life, fuck my life, fuck my life.”

When the time for my departure from campus came, the daylong amassment of hateful sentiments reached its zenith; the absolute end-all be-all culmination of a straight morning and afternoon full of “fuck my life” had snowballed into a swirling vortex of self-pity, fated to implode like a black hole in the face of an instance precisely such as the one I currently faced: it was raining.

“Fuck … my … LIFE,” I repeated to myself through gritted teeth in synchrony with my pedaling, gutter water splashing my ankles. I hadn’t even biked past Segundo yet when my hair was already matted to my skull, rain was seeping through my cardigan, and my jeans were two-toned from the front side’s saturation.

Since my bike has been making its rounds in the Gallagher family since the early ’80s, its various mechanical components have developed their own eccentric qualities. The brakes, for instance, squeal like a dying baby seal in even the slightest of mists; on this particular day, however, the unearthly noise emitted by my Trek Antelope as I slowed down to cross Russell was resonant enough to turn the heads of everyone at the intersection, inside and outside of vehicles.

As I began to repeat the day’s catchphrase once more, I was joined at the crosswalk by another pedestrian: the man was hunched over in a low-to-the-ground wheelchair without an umbrella, leaving the backside of his sweatshirt noticeably darker than the front. He sat on a bandana that must have become too sodden to wear, and was now dragging unnoticed along the ground, accumulating grime. His hair was dripping wet and he didn’t have any shoes on his feet. I doubted he could be happy, but his facial expression was blank, as though he had simply adjusted to this additional minor hardship. As the light changed and the pedestrian started to wheel himself off into the downpour, I forgot momentarily about pedaling, about rain, and about “fuck my life;” in the face of what I had just witnessed, everything up until that point seemed all at once very trivial.

The rest of the bike ride went without a single utterance of self-pity, even when I recalled my lack of a fender and felt the telltale mud stripe splattered along my spine. No big deal. This was manageable – an annoyance at worst.

As soon as I got home, I changed into a set of dry clothes, shedding the pessimistic attitude along with the damp digs. I wandered around the apartment, fresh-faced and ready to perceive the world anew, starting by making a soothing mug of Tension Tamer tea. Entering the kitchen to do so, however, I inadvertently placed my foot, along with one of the replacement dry socks, directly into a puddle of melted ice. Immediately and instinctively, my thought process faltered.

In that snapshot of time, I had to will myself not to say those words; to recall that self-pity was just another vessel for self-interest; to choose if I truly wanted to consider myself or others first. Slowly, I surveyed the empty apartment foyer – as though to check if there was anyone watching – and sighed a quiet, shameful verdict: “fuck my life.”

DYLAN GALLAGHER loves all of his fans and would love to respond to their equally-valued inquiries at dylaaaaan@gmail.com. But please, attractive people only.


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